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Thoughts on Public Relations, Communications, Social Media, Sports and anything else in my life…

How Are You Spending Your Holiday?

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Now that I have a few weeks of free time, I’ve found myself quite bored. I got used to the incessant workload I carried this semester and now I’m twiddling my thumbs.

So I’ve decided to spend my break learning something I’ve always wanted to–how to write HTML. Of course I know that two or three weeks is nowhere near enough time to learn HTML, but I figure it will give me a few weeks of solid introduction to the concepts and allow me to understand what I’m getting myself into.

I had a slight breakthrough (this is huge for me) when I was able to figure out how to code the buttons on my right sidebar yesterday. This success has given me a boost of encouragement to push forward and enter this intimidating realm.

My question to you is: What are some good resources (preferably free) for a beginner learning HTML?

I’ve found a couple free tutorials, but I wasn’t sure if there were sources others have found to be helpful.

photo credit: ashley.adcox

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Filed under: HTML

What This Semester Taught Me

improveThis week marks the end of yet another eventful and tiresome semester. I successfully wrapped up my PR campaigns course, was invited to be on the USF Bateman team and grew as an individual and professional in the process. Of course, it took  a constant IV drip of coffee to keep me alert and focused (and sane) during the many late nights/early mornings, but I would say the time was worth it and I pulled a lot away from it.

Don’t wait, do what you want to do now!
It is really easy to assume that you’ll have enough time later on to do that task, but you don’t. Get what you want and need done right away. Leave yourself plenty of time to revise and polish. Plus, you’ll extend your life a little from not putting yourself under extra stress.

Jump at every opportunity to do improve yourself and your skills!
What are your weaknesses? What are you currently doing to improve on them? As I’ve said before, I want to improve my public speaking skills. When the account executive for my group fell ill, I jumped at the opportunity to present our campaign to over 70 people. Challenge yourself and push your threshold!

Take on leadership roles when they arise!
Showing future employers that you are able to lead a team is absolutely necessary if you wish to contend with other applicants in the PR field. I was asked to be a member of the USF Bateman team this year and immediately asked my fellow team members for their approval to be account executive. I didn’t do it to be cocky or because I felt I was better than them, I wanted to the challenge myself to a position I have no experience with and grow.

Join professional organizations!
As a PR student, you must be a member of any professional organization that interest you. PRSSA and IABC chapters on college campuses are excellent organizations to be affiliated with. Take  the opportunity to go to the local professional chapters and network with those members. The contacts you make there can open doors to internships and job possibilities.

Supplement in-class activities with external resources!
Get an internship, read blogs and meet with professionals. These are ways you can build on the core concepts you are being taught in class. PR is such a dynamic field that you must be reading blogs and interning in order to stay current with trends and practicies.

Find time to blog!
Any PR student who isn’t currently blogging should stop what they are doing and set one up right away. As communicators, why not utilize the tools available to communicate and improve your skills? And if you already have a blog, join me in vowing to blog more.

This semester was so unordinary, and inspiring, that I could not possibly sum it up in one post. I met great people at the PRSSA National Conference in Detroit and became more passionate about my career choice. I learned to roll with the punches and make the best out of every situation. I became more focused and driven. I realized that not everyone is cut out to be a leader. Most of all, I learned to have a short memory. Its best to not sweat the little stuff.

What about you? What have the last 3 months taught you about yourself?

Filed under: Uncategorized

Care For Your Customers

Deaths in the family happen. When they do, it’s always a hassle to secure transportation, funds and make any necessary arrangements before you leave to be with the family.

I recently had an aunt pass away and my parents needed to get to Wisconsin quickly. My dad called Delta, who he flies with frequently and has accrued massive amounts of sky miles with, and used his sky miles to purchase two tickets.

His experience went south fast. After explaining to the customer service rep that this was an emergency, the rep made no attempt to find an alternate flight in that would not require a five-hour layover. Then, the rep told my father that in order to use his sky miles, he was required to have a Saturday-stay and could not book his return flight until Sunday. Finally, after spending over 60,000 sky miles, they rep informed my father that he had to pay an additional $360–out of pocket– in fees and for the phone call. Really, a phone call?

There needs to be some empathy in the airline industry for emergency situations such as this. I understand the economy has placed airlines in a crunch, but treating loyal customers poorly is not going to help your bottom line. Not only have they taken away time my parents could be spending making arrangements with the family, they made them use more sick-leave and “vacation” time to stay through Saturday.

Delta dropped the ball on this one. Though my father must fly Delta for business trips, he has guaranteed to use other airlines for personal travel from now on.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Want to explore social media for your business? Hire an intern!

Let’s face it, social media has only begun to take root in public relations. What we know now is only a stepping stone for what is to come in the next few years. We are already pitching journalists and sending out press releases via Twitter, quickly knocking down the walls of tradition. So why fight social media? You’ll only be left in its wake…

So, how do you get started?

Hire an intern. College students spend copious amounts of time using social media and would like nothing more than to take those skills and relate them to their jobs. This has many benefits to both you and the intern: You get free help, your business begins its shift into Web 2.0, the intern gains invaluable experience with both old and new practices, and you both walk away knowing you have provided a great service to each other.

That being said, this shouldn’t be a social-media-only internship. Interns should still learn about your business, how to operate in your sector and develop their core skills. Just because social media is making things easier for PR people doesn’t mean we have to slack on our fundamentals!

Start slow.

It is quite tempting to register for every social media site or tool out there, but you must refrain from that. Before you even launch a blog, or begin twittering, you need to sit back and listen to what is being said about you. This is the perfect job for an intern. They can take the time to research the tools and report back to you, helping decide which ones would help you the most. This allows them to follow feedback about your business, learning your strengths and weaknesses, and become a vital component of this new communications channel you are about to open.

Enjoy and Embrace it.

Once you’ve researched social media tools and tried some out, decide if you truly enjoy them. If you begin seeing them as a chore, it is probably best you don’t continue using them. However, if you are enjoying social media and it becomes a viable part of your practice, embrace it. The more time you spend with the tools, the more you’ll learn about them and you’ll start using them in different ways than when you started. PLUS, social media is one of the least expensive tools you can use for your business today.

There, I’ve just given you two ways to improve your workflow and help the next generation of PR practitioners for next to nothing–Hire an intern and let them explore social media for your business.

What are your thoughts? Do you think more companies will begin searching for social media interns?

Filed under: Public Relations, Social Media

Is Spin Really Bad?

Whether you are a seasoned practitioner or a student currently studying public relations, chances are you have some opinion on spin.

This past Monday, Penelope Trunk, author of Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success, gave a speech at the 2008 PRSSA National Conference in Detroit in which she referenced spin. I cannot remember her exact quote, but it was along the lines of spin being at tool that all practitioners should know how to use.

Penelope Trunk never once said that spin was the tool of choice of pr practitioners, nor did she even allude to using it improperly. She just explained that at some point in a PR practitioner’s career, they will use spin.

What do you think? Do you agree?

To me, her statement echoed a couple of things I’ve heard and believe. The first being you shouldn’t surround yourself with people who only tell you things you want to hear. You need that difference of opinion to shed light on different ideas and to foster discussion. (There was an uncomfortable exchange between Penelope Trunk and the host of the event which triggered countless discussions of spin.)

The other thing I’ve come to realize is that spin isn’t necessarily bad. Spin can mean shedding light on good efforts during a bad situation. You don’t always have to think of spin as hiding the bad. It is possible to deal with bad situations without creating some sort of “cover-up.”

I’ve been taught that spin is bad. Don’t sping things, blah blah blah. But why? Why wouldn’t you use spin when the weather is right? It’s about time that people start thinking outside the box and seek out cases where spin was used positively. (This is like case study books–there are never failed cases in those textbooks. How about showing spin in a different light?)

I completely agree with Penelope Trunk. PR practitioners will use some form of spin during their career. It is up to them to decide how they will use it and to abide by the ethics of the profession.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Service Learning–Any Thoughts?

The University of South Florida, like many other colleges and universities around the world, offers service learning courses to students to bridge the gap between classroom theory and real world application.

This form of instruction has become the focus of my Advanced Public Relations team’s campaign. We are researching the attitudes and behaviors of USF faculty who are engaged in service learning to develop a greater understanding of service learning’s impact on student’s education. We are also seeking out limitations and negative implications regarding service learning, along with the positives, to develop a strategic plan to promote service learning among USF Faculty and help them realize its mutual benefit to students and the surrounding community.

I want to reach out to anyone who has either taught a service learning course, taken one or both. I want to hear your thoughts on this and further understand the attitudes surrounding service learning.  Is it good, bad, tedious, useless, anything?

This inquiry will not be included in our research study, but it is a way for me to gain knowledge on service learning and branch out from one public to get a larger perspective. Also, my Advanced PR class is a service learning course and I’m interested to see if your perspective matches mine.

That being said…Here’s how I feel about service learning as a student currently in a service learning course: It’s tough, time-consuming, aggrivating and stressful. It is also fun, exciting, beneficial and a great way to practice your core PR skills.  I love the class structure and the amount of work involved, but I feel like I’m a minority on this issue. Any students feel the same way? Complete opposite? 

This was a curious post to see if anyone had any thoughts on the issue and wanted to share. I’d love to hear from you!

FYI…
Listed below are some very general questions we are looking to have answered through our research.

What are your perceptions on this type of learning?
Is it a better structure for learning?
Any negative thoughts on service learning?

Filed under: Uncategorized

What Are Your Top 10 1980’s Songs?

Karen Russel from Teaching PR tagged me in the “Top 10 80’s Songs” meme and so I thought I would share my picks. I mixed it up a little and threw in some songs that I really like from the 80’s that others may not have (A.K.A. some country songs).

In no particular order:

  • Don’t Close Your Eyes – Keith Whitley
  • Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams
  • Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N Roses
  • Here I Go Again – Whitesnake
  • Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield
  • Fishin’ in the Dark – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison
  • Africa – Toto
  • Power of Love – Huey Lewis and the News
  • Better Man – Clint Black

I had to leave some out, but these are worthy of my top 10.

Alisha Levin, Dris Stephen, Lara Kretler and Kelli Burns: What are your favorite songs of the 80’s?

Filed under: Uncategorized

A Lesson in Leadership

A key trait great leaders share is humility. Great leaders are able to disregard their preconceptions and look at situations objectively. Arrogance and pride never factor into decisions, which are made for the greater good of the group or organization. Critical thinking and the ability to care are essential tools in a great leader’s toolkit.

Are you a great leader?

In the six short years the state of Florida has allowed me to work legally, I have encountered great leaders. In the same time span, I have encountered many bad leaders. Most of these bad leaders weren’t horrible people, but people who didn’t possess any leadership qualities. Time and maturity could cure these people.

The great leaders I have had the honor of working with all shared the aforementioned qualities. The most amazing trend I witnessed, though, was the fact that they didn’t have to try to lead–they just did it. It came naturally to them and they made the workplace somewhere enjoyable to work. They also became great mentors of mine, coaching me in the many decisions I’ve made.

The reason I’m posting this is that lately, I have some experiences that have taught me a few lessons in leadership. These are a few things that I’ve picked up on that aspiring leaders should learn:

  • Care about people. Take the time to tell someone that you appreciate what they are doing and that they have an impact on the world around them.
  • Listen to people. Employees and teammates have great ideas as well. Allow them to present their insights and you could find your group or organization performing better.
  • Lighten Up. Work doesn’t have to always be serious. Allowing employees to have fun and be productive at the same time will create a better work atmosphere, potentially improving quality.
  • Delegate tasks. You may feel like you have all the answers and are the only one who can do the work, but give employees the chance to showcase their abilities. This creates a win-win situation, giving you a break and giving employees the satsifaction of being involved.
  • Admit your mistakes. Never cover up mistakes or place blame on others. When you admit your faults, you allow yourself to be human and be a better role model for employees. Plus, mistakes always comeback to bite you one way or another!

Take a look around you some time and see if you notice people who embody these traits. Do you find yourself looking up to them?

Filed under: Uncategorized

Do you know as much as you think you do?

(Warning: Long, reflective post.)

Do you ever have moments when you silently reflect on the time you’ve invested in something and wonder if you’ve made the most out of it?

Throughout these past two week, I’ve begun to wonder if I’ve really pushed myself as much as I should have throughout the past three years of college. I would like to think so, but the honest truth is that I have not. I’ve tried to do my best, but I never quite shot for 110%.

Then I began to wonder if I truly knew as much about public relations as I thought I did. I got the same results–enough to get by, but not much more than that. After a few days of pondering this realization, I figured out why I haven’t pushed myself to the limit: Fear.

This sounds odd, but for my first three years of college, I dreaded registering for classes because I didn’t want to start taking upper-level classes for fear of failure. I was nervous to get an internship because I thought I would be a failure. Hell, I was nervous to start a blog for fear of embarassment.  Now, this all seems extremely silly.

Once I immersed myself in my classes, I surprised myself at how well I absorbed the information. I got an internship and learned many things to supplement my classes. I began to blog (obviously) and realized that readership isn’t something to worry about as long as you enjoy it and take something away.

My point with this little anecdote is that I’ve finally seen the larger picture. I now know attending class is just one factor in the college education equation. Going beyond the curriculum and putting your schoolwork to use is what really cements the ideas you learned together. Take the time to be curious.

While you’re at it, challenge yourself too! Now is the time to target your weaknesses and begin strengthening them. If you want to be a better writer, do so. You can join the school newspaper, start a blog, write for a newsletter or just free write. The best way to work on your weaknesses is force yourself to do whatever it is. I’m a poor public speaker. Therefore, I’ve begun to speak more in front of large groups and improve my speech at every opportunity. Practice makes perfect you better!

Also, set goals. If you take one thing from this lengthy post, let this be it. Creating a plan of action for yourself is one of the most important and positive things you can do. This gives you a road map of where you want to go and how to get there. Make the goals reachable, yet challenging. Track your progress and reward yourself as you reach them. Do this and you’re sure to set yourself up for success!

(Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom. I know the two of you who actually did so wish you had the time back, huh?)

Image Credit: ms.lume

Filed under: Reflection, School, Success, Writing

School Is About To Start, How Can Social Media Help?

It’s that time again! You guessed it, FOOTBALL SEASON!! For those of you who aren’t football fans, this time of the year is also known as the start of the Fall semester. The lovely time of year where we fall victim to outrageous textbook prices and professors who must teach with the 12th edition. Ah yes, the time when our bank accounts seem as though they’ve undergone gastric bypass surgery because of the rapid decrease in size. The joyful college experience…

The onset of a new semester does provide me with some anxiousness. I finally get to use the social media tools I’ve been exploring to supplement my coursework. I’ve spent some time creating ideas about how to use new media tools to my advantage in my quest of higher learning and so I’ve decided to create a list of ways I’ll be using social media tools to enhance my studies in hopes of inspiring you to do so as well.

1. Actively blog about topics discussed in class to further expand your understanding.
2. Read blogs about topics discussed in class to expand your understanding.
3. Use Twitter to pose questions, using your network to identify different angles.
4. Share interesting things you learn in class via Twitter, Del.icio.us, Digg, blogs, etc.
5. Use RSS feeds to supplement your text, lectures, etc.
6. Use social networking sites for collaboration, research, idea generation and editing.
7. Explore other avenues of social media and learn to adapt them to your needs as a student.

I’m aware that 7 is an odd number to stop at, but that’s all I could come up with right now. These are just a few quick ideas I have for using social media as an aide–I know there are many more. Besides, you are already using Google and Wikipedia for research, why not expand to authoritative blogs and your social networks?

What uses of social media can you come up with for supplementing your coursework?

Filed under: Uncategorized

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